It’s the time of year for moose encounters in the region, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wants residents to be prepared.
Only a handful of the large animals have wandered into Cache Valley so far this year, but every summer brings plenty of moose sightings in the mountains around the valley, and sometimes the animals and humans get too close for comfort.
“In my years of working with wildlife, I have dealt with bears, rattlesnakes, cougars and moose, and the only species that I’ve had turn and come back at me was a moose,” said DWR big-game coordinator Covy Jones in a recent press release. “People often underestimate how aggressive they can be.”
An example of that aggressiveness occurred in Green Canyon east of North Logan earlier this year when a cross-country skier was trampled by a moose. According to reports, the skier saw the animal and tried to take cover in some vegetation, but the moose followed and caught up to the skier, knocking him down and running over the top of him. The victim escaped with only minor injuries.
UDWR estimates there are 2,500 to 3,000 moose in the Northern Utah, including many in the mountains surrounding Cache Valley. Young moose, both males and females, are known to wander out of the mountains in the spring after being pushed out of their families by their pregnant mothers.
Some years dozens of these yearlings find their way into the valley’s urban areas and have to be removed by wildlife officials, but this year local sightings have been sparse, with only one animal, a young bull moose, having to be tranquilized and relocated after wandering close to Logan Regional Hospital in early June.
“We tranquilized that moose and we took him way up in Logan Canyon in some really great moose habitat,” DWR spokesman Mark Hadfield said.
Adult moose typically weigh around 1,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder. After giving birth, the females are known to be very protective of their young.
Signs that the animals might become aggressive include licking their snouts, pinning their ears back, a lowered head and hair standing up on the neck.
If you encounter a moose, the DWR offers these tips to help you stay safe:
n Always give the moose a lot of space and watch its behavior.
n Never try to approach or feed a moose.
n Keep dogs leashed and under control at all times. It is against Utah law to allow dogs to chase or harass protected wildlife, like moose.
n Stay calm and do not run away. Talk, make your presence known and slowly back away in the direction you came.
n If a moose charges you or chases you, hide behind something solid (like a tree) or try to get inside a vehicle or building.
n If a moose knocks you down, curl into a ball, protect your head and lie still until the moose retreats.
“Like with most wildlife, if you give moose plenty of space and don’t try to get too close, it will help keep you and them safe ... We really want people to admire these amazing animals from a distance and stay safe,” Jones said.